Tag Archives: zone 8b garden

Sneaking out to the Garden

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Let’s look at something besides my face, shall we?

It still hurts pretty bad from the Fluorouricil cream and its effects, but I can’t complain. I have a friend currently having treatment for melanoma.

There’s a difference between a face that hurts when it smiles and a smile that is hurting.

I have had a great year with my zucchini already. Usually I get about 4 squash, then the squash vine borers arrive to kill the plants. I planted black zucchini (I still think they look green) and they have done so well.

The cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen, and I have been pleased with the ‘Tendergreen’ beans. They’re one of my new favorites.

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In  North Florida, the blackberries are ripe! I been foraging twice and have made some jam. You should go look for some too. I saw a 12 oz package of blackberries for $5.99 yesterday!!

Granted, the ones I found are much smaller, but you can’t beat the price!

I’ve had to do my picking and gardening in the shade because of the treatment for my pre-skin cancer spots, but I feel so much better some time in the garden.

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I think today might be a good day to make some chocolate zucchini bread.

I have some more gardening tips and ideas for you, especially if your daikon radishes are still bolting. If the seedpods have already dried, you can save the seeds like a ninja! I have harvested my potatoes, so also look for a post on how to harvest a small crop of potatoes.

Congratulations to all the graduates out there- I made a homemade chocolate cake with mocha frosting and coral peonies- pictures of that coming soon too.

I hope you get to go outside and do some gardening, but please wear a hat and sunscreen!

 

May Gardening To-Do List

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It’s a great time to get those summer gardens started!

Here’s what I’m planning to do this month.

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  1. Get basil in the ground. It’s not too late to start some, and it makes wonderful homemade pesto!
  2. Plant eggplant.
  3. Plant okra.
  4. Set up and plant a pole bean teepee.
  5. Harvest potatoes.DSCN6810
  6. Start yard long beans.
  7. Hopefully I will get lots of cucumbers to make refrigerator pickles!

What’s on your agenda for this month?

My ulterior motive for buying Classico

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Reusing Classico jars for canning

You’re not supposed to do this, but if you can believe what you read on the internet, you can actually reuse Classico jars for canning home goods!

I did it, and did not sustain any bodily injury.

Don’t come crying to me if you die, though. I told you that you’re not supposed to do it.

I have also used their lids with great success to avoid the nasty rusted canning lid syndrome.

Anyway, these are a great size (24 oz) and I am happy to add them to my canning jar stash! I think Publix had them BOGO for $2.99, which is a great deal, especially considering that I’m getting a canning jar too.

Mmm. Now I’m in the mood for some hot apple pie made with homemade pie filling or some warm homemade bread slathered with apple pie jam…

Maybe I’ll can some salsa in these this summer. I do love salsa.

Isn’t canning yummy?

 

 

Did you start your tomatoes on Valentine’s Day?

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This year, I’m trying to eke out a bit more from my winter garden. Hopefully having the garden busy with radishes, turnips, and mustard greens will keep me from poking bean seeds into cool soil.

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I love being able to harvest the dinner vegetable just minutes before cooking it.

More kale, three types of turnips, and hopefully some carrots will be making an appearance soon.

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I did get some tomatoes, peppers, dill, and cucumbers started this week. It seems as though winter is over, and I do have a few rows that will be available.

I need to save some more seeds this year from my ‘National Pickling’ cucumbers. I use them to make refrigerator pickles, and we look forward to them each year.

Really, if I could only grow one vegetable each spring, I think cucumbers would be it.

What is your favorite vegetable to grow in the spring?

 

North Florida Gardening: August To-Do List

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It is a jungle out there. I really don’t want to share pictures of what my garden looks like now.

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How about you just look at these pretty peas?

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Or the nice striping on this eggplant?

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I have two teeny tiny jalepeno plants, approximately a foot tall each, and they have been pumping out the peppers. I just got a dozen from them.

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Just keep scrolling past the garden pictures…

The okra is doing great, as is the basil. The orange and yellow cosmos are real winners over here.

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Jungle!! AHH!!

The cover crops that I planted are chugging along, though, even the 75 cent pinto beans.

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Going to let a few ‘Clemson Spineless’ okra pods ripen so I can save some okra seeds for next year.

I planted probably double the amount as last year, and I still wish I had planted more.

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The yard long beans are growing up the fence with amazing vigor. They twine like pole beans, but aren’t complaining about the netting. They show no signs of slowing, and seem as though they would grow 50 feet tall if I had a trellis high enough.

My neighbors probably already think I’m weird enough, better not.

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Picked and shelled some Southern peas. I think I’ll grow more ‘Mississippi Silver’ next year; they seem to be larger and pack the pod pretty tight. More meat for your shelling time.

My to-do list for August:

1. Get seeds started for fall garden. Kale, collards, Swiss chard, cauliflower, kohlrabi,and broccoli will go in flats so they can be planted out in September.

2. Till under cover crops in large garden toward end of month.

3. Pull up green beans from shed bed and replace with zucchini and yellow squash. In August, we can essentially replant a spring garden here in North Florida, and September starts the official fall garden planting for me. If you want an almost complete guide to the vegetables you can grow in Florida, a really good planting calender can be found here.

4. Try not to get stressed out by how terrible the garden looks now. July and August tend to be pretty tough. Maybe next year I’ll just smother the whole thing with grocery store beans the first of July and pretend it doesn’t exist until the middle of August. 🙂

How’s your garden? For some of  you, this is the time to make me jealous!

The Summer Garden in North Florida

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Are your squash plants struggling? Tomato plants looking raggedy and not producing any new flowers? Cucumbers starting to get covered in powdery mildew?

Time for the summer garden!

Here in North Florida, frost doesn’t signal the end of a gardening season; the intense heat and oppressive humidity kills the plants.

You don’t have to give up gardening in our “winter” season, as there are many crops that actually thrive in the heat.

1. Okra– I love this vegetable! It’s not just for gumbo; if you don’t like the slimeyness, try my no-slime okra recipe.

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2. Eggplant– The classic way to prepare it is as Eggplant Parmesan; but I like to dice it, saute it with olive oil and garlic, then use it like mushrooms in omelettes and sauces.

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3. Sweet potatoes– I bought plants once, and since then have propagated my own if I wanted more plants. You can also start your own. Of course I like to eat the potatoes, but did you know that you can also eat the leaves as a nutritious summer green?

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4. Southern peas– These peas are not to be confused with the little green peas known as English peas and garden peas; Southern peas include legumes such as black-eyed peas, pink-eyed purple-hulled peas, crowders, and lima beans. I made some amazing succotash last year with my fresh limas.

I am growing yard long beans again this year. I am really excited about them, so expect an update soon!

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Even if you’d rather take the summer off from gardening, I recommend you use these as a cover crop. Since they are legumes, they will put nitrogen back in your soil. If you don’t cover your garden with either a thick layer of mulch or a cover crop, the weeds will take over.

Frugal cover crop tip: buy a bag of beans from the grocery store and plant them. They may be pole or bush, but either way you will be feeding the soil and shading out the weeds.

5. Peppers- I have had good success with jalapenos and banana peppers in the summer.

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I plant bell peppers in the spring, but they usually just limp along until the fall, and then produce like crazy. You can start some bell peppers now, but don’t expect much of a harvest until it gets a bit cooler.

These are the fuss-free crops that have done well for me in the summer. In the summer, I may pop out to water them occasionally in the morning or evening, but I really don’t want to be out for hours in the afternoon heat.

For a great chart of many other crops that can be planted, organized by month and region, click here.

Oh yes, one more summer crop.

6. Basil– This herb loves the heat and it is great for pesto!

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How about you? Do you keep gardening in the summer, or do you take some time off to rest?

My Little Corn Harvest

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We planted corn as an experiment this year, not knowing quite what to expect. Corn likes fertile soil, and, well, I’m essentially gardening in a sandbox.

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Looks like incomplete pollination on some of them, but overall I was pleased with how many ears we got from our little planting.

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We grew ‘Merit’ corn and got these cute little ears, perfect for a single serving.

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Some of these beautiful ears of corn will be boiled, slathered in butter, and sprinkled with salt.

I also plan to take some of these ( the ones that -ahem- were harvested too early) and simmer them in ham stock with some ham chunks, red potatoes, sauteed onions, and make some corn chowder!

Will I grow corn again? Yes!

May To-Do List

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I have some before and after pictures for you this month. The dollar weed was winning, so it was time to use a tiller and reclaim the garden.

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I planted my bean seeds expecting warmth, and we were disappointed. We ended up tilling much of it and replanting. My husband made those neat arches, and hopefully we’ll have lots of tasty cucumbers from them.

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Even if they don’t produce much, they still look cool. 🙂

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The shed bed had become overgrown with bolting mustard. I had some garlic almost ready to harvest, but I decided to just pull it up and make a fresh start. One of the bulbs made it inside and was discovered in an unlikely place-more on that later.

I had 3 blueberry bushes languishing by the back fence. That’s my wonderful husband there transplanting them. Really this garden renovation would not have been possible without him.

He was so sweet to help me. When I mentioned that blueberries like acidic soil, he carefully layered pine straw and coffee grounds in their new home. Awww… what a guy!

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Here’s some veggies that I harvested before the tilling: green and wax beans, carrots, turnips, and  a forgotten radish.

My to-do list:

  1. Till gardens.
  2. Plant more green beans, basil, okra, bell peppers, and southern peas.
  3. Mulch cucumbers with compost.
  4. Transplant eggplants.

 

How’s your garden?

 

I Just Can’t Help Myself

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Some women can’t be trusted to walk past a shoe display without buying. I can’t be trusted to walk past a seed display safely.

“I’ll just look, ” I tell myself, “maybe they have some of those colorful carrots that I’ve seen advertised.”

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Suddenly I find myself clutching a handful of seed packets like a kid with a fistful of forbidden candy, justifying myself.

I really have struggled with cauliflower, maybe it’s the variety?

Oh yes, there’s those colorful carrots- won’t they be fun?! Imagine the looks on people’s faces when I bring those out for a snack!

Swiss chard, well, I always see it growing so large and luxurious in my gardening books, maybe it’s time to grow a colorful variety like everybody else.

Kohlrabi, doesn’t it look fun? Like a UFO? No, I don’t have an obsession with UFOs, despite the fact that I also grow UFO squash. 🙂

Broccoli, now that is a vegetable that I would like to succeed in growing. With a name like ‘Sun King,’ it’s bound to do well for me here in Florida. I’m sick of growing broccoli florets.

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Oh boy, gotta have some of those flowers.

Won’t these look great together this fall? I saw a snapdragon/pansy combo that I really liked. Think of all the money I’ll save by growing these from seed!!

I can put them in the flower bed by the front porch, fill the flower bed out back once the summer flowers have been cut back, maybe put some in the garden too, Oh how about some pots of them on the front and back porches…

I don’t know who I think is going to do all this, but it is so fun to plan. 😀

NOTE: These are all fall crops and will not be started until late summer or early fall. By then, seed displays will be gone, despite the fact that THIS IS FLORIDA, PEOPLE, WE CAN GARDEN ALL. THE. TIME. so please leave out the displays!!

Ahem. Anyway, I think I am set for the fall. Unless… maybe I should buy some sugar snap peas, just in case the feed store doesn’t get any in stock???

Hey, at least gardening is a relatively cheap hobby. Productive too. I could collect stamps. At least I can eat my hobby.

If I save seeds from the non-hybrids, I’ll save even more!

Any others out there who need to be restrained when going by a seed display?

North Florida Gardening April To-Do List

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I hope you had a happy Easter! Seeds are sprouting and tomato plants are being set out into the warming soil.

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Daikons are bolting, garlic is growing, mustard greens are providing final harvests, and a random volunteer collard plant is sending out pretty yellow blossoms.

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The large garden has yellow, purple, and green beans sprouting. Kale still producing; it hasn’t started to bolt like the mustard on the other side and the collards in the back corner.

Corn and okra in center box have sprouted.

Not much to see this month- but what a difference a month can make! I’m excited to see the difference between the young seedlings of this month and the progress they’ll make in a month.

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Look at all the greens I harvested! Their quality tends to decline with the warmer weather, so I wanted to get most of them harvested. I’m going to eat, freeze, and gift them away. I got a bag of collards, two bags of mustard greens, and two bags of kale.

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My largest head of broccoli is underwhelming. I’ve determined to try again next year.

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Tomatoes started on Valentine’s Day are doing well.

My to-do list:

1. Finish planting tomatoes.

2. Replace few straggling turnips with rows of bush beans.

3. Put up trellis for pickling cucumbers– they’ll be needing it soon.

4. Trellis tomatoes.

Pretty short list this month- mostly just let the seeds and plants grow. I made some strawberry-lemon marmalade that turned out really good. I’ll share that soon. 🙂

How is your garden? Thriving? Or are you waiting for the snow to thaw?

I’m ready for a juicy BLT! How about you?